Labor, Collectivity, and the Nurturance of Attentive Belonging

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This chapter explores Simone Weil’s political thought on labor and political community by comparing it with that of liberal and republican thinkers. Her consideration of the human need for private property and of the way laboring produces a feeling of belonging resonates with the liberal political thought of John Locke. Weil, however, emphasizes labor’s capacity to transform individuals by increasing their sensitivity to the world and capacity to attend to the needs of others. If as C.B. Macpherson argues, liberal political thought is based on possessive individualism, then Weil’s is based on an attentive individualism. While Weil affirms the vital necessity of collectivity for human flourishing, she maintains a critical concern with the overvaluation of the collective in relation to the individual. In significant respects, Weil’s political thought is neither liberal nor republican and as such enables us opportunities for critical and creative reimagining of inherited political ideologies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSimone Weil, Beyond Ideology?
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030484019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan. 2020


  • Collectivity
  • Individuality
  • Labour
  • Liberalism
  • Republicanism


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